Tips To Explain Alzheimer’s Disease To Your Kids

  • November 06, 2020 BY  Anthem Seniors
  • Anthem Senior Living

Alzheimer’s can have a big impact on every member of the family, both the person living with the disease and those who love and care for them, including children. Alzheimer’s causes unpredictable days for every member of the family, and children may have an especially difficult time understanding Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia) because of the unpredictability of the disease. As children see a change in their loved one’s behavior in their day-to-day life, they might have questions about what’s happening as the disease progresses. It’s important to answer these questions openly and honestly instead of brushing them aside. Unusual behavior of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s may cause children to experience a rollercoaster of emotions, which is why it is important to discuss the issue and share with them the changes the disease might bring.

Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia can be difficult for families to safely manage at home (as the disease progresses). Wandering, agitation, and aggression are tough behaviors to cope with for those not familiar with disease management, which is where senior living in Anthem facilities comes to the rescue. Reputable facilities like Anthem Seniors offers memory care programs that are not just the safest solution for an older adult, but also allow a person to live their best quality of life.

To schedule a private tour of our memory care community, contact Anthem Seniors at 602.909.9550.

Here are some tips that can help you explain Alzheimer’s disease to your kids:

It’s understandable that it can be difficult to explain the illness and its effects to younger children in ways they understand. But you have to start somewhere, you cannot (and should not) keep them in the dark for very long. Hopefully these tips will help:

Explain the disease– The best approach for talking to children about Alzheimer’s disease is to keep it simple. Instead of talking in riddles, educate them in the basic, simple terms on what the disease is, how it progresses and what they should expect to see as changes occur in their grandparent. They need to understand that it is because of the disease that their grandparents are having good and bad days. It is because of the disease that though in the morning the senior may seem like themselves, but by evening, are becoming agitated and anxious. Children must not feel as if they’ve done something wrong, as the changes are all part of the illness. If your child is older, tell them honestly that the changes deep inside the brains are destroying the centers that control remembering, thinking and feeling, and they need our love and respect even more now.

Not contagious– With the progression of the disease, as children witness changes, they might worry (might not express) that one of you will “catch” Alzheimer’s like you would a cold or the flu, so it becomes important then to make them know that the disease isn’t contagious.

It is integral to work as a family to develop a plan for caring for your loved one, which won’t just reduce stress, but will create an environment in which your children will learn empathy, teamwork, and compassion. Reassure them it is okay to care for a senior loved one as there’s no risk of catching the disease.

Develop a list of activities– Take a few minutes to create a list of activities the kids and their family elder can still enjoy together prior to sitting them down to explain the disease. Activities that children and teens can do with a person with dementia include

  1. Put a puzzle together
  2. Read a favorite book or story
  3. Take a walk around the neighborhood
  4. Look at photos (walk down memory lane)
  5. Listen to or sing favorite songs
  6. Plant flowers
  7. Bake cookies

These activities will help people with Alzheimer’s stay engaged with life.